Presentation on theme: "“The ‘child’…is thus both beginning and end, an initial and a terminal creature” (Jung 178)."— Presentation transcript:
“The ‘child’…is thus both beginning and end, an initial and a terminal creature” (Jung 178).
The Child Archetype “ ‘A child is born to us.’ Christmas is the celebration of Jesus as infant and divinity entering the human arena. This motif of the divine child is common to many religions, suggesting not only the childhood of the God, but also the divinity of childhood…[Jung] described the child of the soul, the archetypal child, as everything that is abandoned, exposed, vulnerable, and yet divinely powerful…this exposure is what allows the child to become someone new and powerful” (Moore ).
The Child Archetype “The child motif represents the preconscious, childhood aspect of the collective psyche” (Jung 161). “The child is potential future…[paving] the way for a future change” (Jung 164). “Sometimes the ‘child’ looks more like a child god, sometimes more like a young hero…The god is by nature wholly supernatural; the hero’s nature is human but raised to the limit of the supernatural – he is ‘semi-divine’” (Jung ).
The Child Archetype “Hence the child distinguishes itself by deeds which point to the conquest of the dark” (Jung 167). “It is a striking paradox in all child myths that the ‘child’ is on the one hand delivered helpless into the power of terrible enemies and in continual danger of extinction, while on the other he possesses powers far exceeding those of ordinary humanity” (Jung 170). “The ‘child’ symbolizes the pre-conscious and the post-conscious essence of man. His pre-conscious essence is the unconscious state of earliest childhood; his post-conscious essence is an anticipation by analogy of life after death” (Jung 178).
The Child Archetype Often the Child archetype involves the concept of a keen insight and the willingness to state simple truths that experienced individuals have learned to ignore. In Hans Christian Anderson’s tale of the Emperor’s new clothes, it is a mere child that has the courage and strength to point out the ruler’s nakedness. According to Biblical accounts, when Jesus Christ overturned the temple and disturbed money-lenders and merchants, the children praised his name. When the scribes scoffed at such praise from the inexperienced, Christ quoted the Old Testament defending their innocence “And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” Matthew 21:16 (Chamblin). This illustration, by Shirley Hughes, is for a 1960 edition of Anderson’s fairytales.
The Child Archetype The Child archetype can also be represented by adults who have somehow retained their child-like worldview. Despite their age, they somehow retain their innocence and simultaneously wield some portion of the embedded power of the Child.
When investigating the Child archetype in literature, do not assume that every child or childish character fully represents the Child archetype. Instead, seek out literary individuals who possess a unique and naïve understanding of the world that lends them some sort of special power or insight. Whether a child or an adult, literary characters that exemplify the Child archetype will be able to speak simple truths that others ignore and/or may act as a Child Hero or Child God.
Literary Application – The Child Archetype In William Faulkner’s minor novel Intruder in the Dust, the Child archetype is active in a central component to the plot. In this southern tale, an African-American farmer in a small town is exonerated of murder charges due to the efforts of two children and an old spinster, “Lucas knew it would take a child – or an old woman like me: someone not concerned with probability, with evidence. Men like your uncle and Mr. Hampton have had to be men too long, busy too long” (Faulkner 89-90). In Faulkner’s challenging novel, a grave is exhumed and refilled several times by various groups of characters.
Modern Reverberations of the Child Like the Shadow and the Trickster, the Child still remains embedded in our more modern stories. Seeing truths that exist beyond his or her limited experience, The Child acts as a shepherd for those adults who have lost their way on the journey from innocence to experience.
Calvin and Hobbes Though extremely mischievous in nature due to his incredible giftedness, Calvin often reflects some aspects of the Child archetype. His genuine sense of wonder and simultaneously skeptical nature lead to perceptive insights, allowing Calvin to state simple truths the adults fail to process independently.
Calvin and Hobbes
Lisa Simpson Lisa Simpson’s sturdy intellect and deep sensitivity help her to achieve analytical insights that she often dispenses to the chagrin of the people of Springfield. But despite her reputation as a slightly-annoying brainiac, Lisa’s words often contribute directly or indirectly to the salvation of the town.
Stewie Griffin Stewie from Family Guy is a great and irreverent example of the Child archetype. When he is not hatching devious world domination plans or berating the family dog with his highly advanced vocabulary, Stewie possessing a keen intellect and an innocent audacity to unabashedly utter his complex thoughts concerning everyday life.
Lucy from The Narnia Series With wide-eyed wonder, the young Lucy discovers the wonderful world of Narnia. After her older siblings follow her through the wardrobe and encounter various adventures, it is Lucy’s continual innocent faith that keeps them from going astray and lends her a powerful connection to their protector – the lion Aslan.
Major Resources Chamblin, Knox. "Commentary on Matthew 21:12-17.” ThirdMill.org. Web. 22 Oct Faulkner, William. Intruder in the Dust. New York: Random House, Print. Jung, C. G.. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. 2 nd ed. New York: Princeton University Press, Print. Moore, Thomas. Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life. Harper Collins, Print.